A pair of outfield prospects delivered the biggest blows in the Phillies' 5-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday at a sold-out Miller Park. Phillips' first career home run gave Milwaukee a fifth-inning lead before Philadelphia started the sixth with six straight hits, including Williams' first career grand slam, as the Phillies dodged a three-game sweep.
The Brewers brought the tying run to the plate in each of the final two innings but were denied both times. The Cubs completed their own sweep in Baltimore on Sunday, so the Brewers' lead in the National League Central shrunk to 4 1/2 games.
"We're always going to want more," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's the world we're in. That's the spot we're certainly in. But we're playing well. I love what we did in the eighth and the ninth, giving ourselves a shot."
It was not the way new Milwaukee reliever Tyler Webb wanted to begin his Brewers career. Maikel Franco, Andrew Knapp and Tommy Joseph started the decisive sixth with successive singles against right-hander Rob Scahill before Counsell called for Webb, a left-hander acquired in a trade with the Yankees on Wednesday. Webb saw his very first pitch hit a Statcast-projected 411 feet to center field for Williams' second career home run and first grand slam. Williams is the Phillies' No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
"It just wasn't a good enough pitch. It was [down the middle]," Webb said of the decisive breaking ball. "It's just got to be a better pitch coming out of the bullpen. You have to have all your stuff working, [including] offspeed."
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson earned the victory after allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in five innings, striking out six. He left the game early because of a cramp in his right calf but said he should be fine to make his next start Saturday against the Brewers in Philadelphia, which is noteworthy because he could be traded before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I felt really good," said Hellickson, who is 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in his past five starts. "That was probably one of better curveballs I've had. Fastball command was good. I felt that's been consistent the last handful of starts. That's what everything else feeds off of, so I've got to continue to do that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED On the board: Brewers starter Matt Garza allowed only one run and three hits on 71 pitches through five innings, but Counsell was looking for offense in the bottom of the fifth when he sent Phillips to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the right-hander. Phillips delivered his first career extra-base hit, a towering two-run homer off Hellickson that gave the Brewers a 2-1 advantage and brought Miller Park to its feet. The fans demanded a curtain call and Phillips, Milwaukee's 10th-ranked prospect, obliged, holding his helmet in the air with his right arm while pumping his left fist.
"You go into that game and Corey [Knebel] and Jacob [Barnes] are down," Counsell said, referring to his closer and setup man who had pitched the previous two days, "so it's an aggressive move for me to pinch-hit for Matt there. You take a chance there, knowing you're going to have to use some different relievers to cover 12 outs. But I'd do it again. You'll take the 2-1 lead. It just didn't work out in [the sixth]." More >
Garcia stretches streak: Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw, coming off a game-winning home run on Saturday, had a chance to be a hero again Sunday when he stepped to the plate as the tying run with two outs. Phillies right-hander Luis Garcia fell behind, 3-0, throwing a wild pitch that pushed a second runner into scoring position. Shaw swung away at the next offering and lifted a routine fly ball to left field, ending the threat and extending Garcia's scoreless streak to 14 2/3 innings.
"He looked at me and I said yeah, so I definitely liked that," Counsell said of Shaw's aggressive approach. "It's a good spot. It was a strike, it was just a little down. … The way Travis is swinging the bat, I think that's a place you take a little risk."
Brewers threaten again: In the ninth against Phillies closer Hector Neris, the Brewers again brought the tying run to the plate after Hernan Perez and Manny Pina started the inning with well-placed bloop hits. Neris regained command with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt, before Orlando Arcia and pinch-hitter Eric Thames popped out to end the game.
"The fans of Milwaukee made it extra special with the curtain call, calling me out there, celebrating with the team for that short period of time. It was just an incredible feeling. I'm looking forward to doing it more. A win would've been a lot cooler to go along with it." -- Phillps, on his homer
"He jumped all over it. First pitch, instead of taking it. That's the kind of thing, you want to be aggressive. You want to see pitches, but with bases loaded, you have to be ready for a mistake first pitch. And he was." -- Mackanin, on Williams hitting a first-pitch breaking ball for a grand slam
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Philadelphia will continue its six-game road trip with a three-game series in Miami, beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday at Marlins Park. Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (1-7, 4.63 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the disabled list with a strained upper back. He is 2-3 with a 3.30 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins.
Brewers: The Brewers will pack their bags for a 10-game road trip, their first and longest of the second half of the season. The series kicks off with a four-game set in Pittsburgh, beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT on Monday. Left-hander Brent Suter will take the mound for the third time in place of the injured Chase Anderson. He didn't give up a run to the Pirates over four relief appearances in 2016.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.